The Number One U.S. Export To China: Waste Paper And Scrap Metal

Historians tell us that by the very end of the Roman Empire, goods were pouring into Rome from all over the known world, but about the only thing being sent out of Rome was human waste and garbage.  America has not yet reached that point, but we are certainly well on our way.  In 2010, the number one U.S. export to China is “scrap and trash”.  Yes, you read the correctly.  The number one thing that China buys from us is our garbage.  According to author Clyde Prestowitz, China’s number one export to the U.S. is computer equipment (nearly $50 billion) while our number one export to them is waste paper and scrap metal (approximately $8 billion).  When it comes to world trade, China is literally wiping the floor with the United States.  In August, the U.S. trade deficit with China set a new one month record of $28 billion dollars.  Our insane trade policies are making China (along with several of our other “trade partners”) incredibly wealthy, and the U.S. government ends up begging China to lend that money back to us to fund the exploding U.S. national debt.  That just isn’t stupidity – that is insanity.

The truth is that our “twin deficits” are literally bankrupting this nation.  We are completely and totally destroying the economic future of our children and grandchildren.

But hey, the Vikings beat the Cowboys, Dancing With The Stars is heating up and we all have a bunch of DVDs to get caught up on so why worry ourselves, right?

Unfortunately, the reality is that we can’t afford to be “comfortably numb” any longer if we hope to have any kind of a future.

It is time to wake up people.

Sadly, a significant percentage of young Americans these days can’t even tell you what a “trade deficit” is. 

If you don’t believe this, just try a little experiment some time.  Just go up to a few young Americans on the street and ask them to define “trade deficit” for you.

But fortunately, the vast majority of the readers of this column are quite informed.  Unfortunately, I still don’t believe that most of you really understand how incredibly dangerous the trade deficit is.

So just how dangerous is the trade deficit?  Well, world famous investor Warren Buffett once put it this way….

“The U.S trade deficit is a bigger threat to the domestic economy than either the federal budget deficit or consumer debt and could lead to political turmoil… Right now, the rest of the world owns $3 trillion more of us than we own of them.”

Between 2000 and 2009, America’s trade deficit with China skyrocketed nearly 300 percent.  Wealth, factories and jobs are leaving the United States at an astounding pace.  The danger that this represents to our economy is so vast that it is hard to even describe.

If you ever find yourself in a debate with proponents of “free trade”, you can almost always get them to eventually admit that “free trade” will raise the standard of living for workers in countries like China while significantly lowering the standard of living for U.S. workers, but that this must be done for the good of the emerging “global economy”.

Of course U.S politicians never really mention this nasty little fact when they give speeches about how wonderful our trade policies are.  They never really get around to mentioning that “free trade” is one of the key foundations of “globalism” and that we are being merged into a one world economy.

Today, American workers do not just compete with other American workers.  Instead, U.S. workers now find themselves in direct competition for jobs with workers in China that makes less than a tenth of what an American worker would make.  In China, a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour.  Apple iPhones are manufactured in China by workers making about 293 dollars a month (and that was after a big raise).

So exactly how long do you think you and your family would be able to survive on 293 dollars a month?

But unfortunately, millions more Americans will lose their jobs and millions more Americans will be forced to take a cut in pay in order to compete in the new global economy.

According to a disturbing new study by the Economic Policy Institute, if the trade deficit with China continues to increase at its current rate, the U.S. economy will lose over half a million jobs this year alone.

The sad truth is that it is NOT a good time to be a blue collar worker in America.  If your job does not get offshored or outsourced, then it is likely to be made obsolete by computers and automation. 

The need for manual labor is rapidly declining in today’s world.  For example, there is a Japanese firm called Fanuc, Ltd. that actually has industrial robots manufacturing other industrial robots in a “lights out” factory.

How bizarre is that?

But things wouldn’t be quite as bad for U.S. workers if China was not cheating so badly.  The truth is that they just do not play the game fairly.

For instance, it is estimated that the Chinese government is keeping China’s currency valued about 40 percent lower than it should be.  This is essentially a de facto subsidy to China’s exporters.

There has been a little bit of rumbling in the Obama administration about this in recent weeks, but it is quite unlikely that they will push China too far on this issue.  After all, the Obama administration desperately needs China to keep loaning us massive quantities of money so that we can keep funding our runaway debt.

If you sit back and objectively analyze the facts, it quickly becomes undeniable that China is beating the living crap out of us economically.  In fact, one prominent economist is projecting that the Chinese economy will be three times larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2040 if current trends continue.

This all could have been turned around a decade or two ago, but now China has us by the throat.  At any time, China could decide to start selling off massive quantities of U.S. Treasuries.  At any time, China could decide to cut off our supply of rare earth elements (of which they have a virtual monopoly).   

China is now even the number one supplier of components that are critical to the operation of U.S. defense systems.  How smart were we to allow that to happen?

It is a direct threat to national security for China to have so much leverage over us.  But you rarely hear anyone talking about this.

The truth is that trade with China is not a left/right issue.  As I have written about previously, it is impossible for any self-respecting conservative to justify our trade policies with China and it is impossible for any self-respecting liberal to justify our trade policies with China.

Yet very few current members of the U.S. Congress ever discuss the possibility of sweeping changes to our trade policies.

So we will continue to lose thousands of factories, we will continue to lose millions of jobs and we will continue to see the biggest transfer of wealth in the history of the world accelerate.

So do any of you think that I am wrong about this?  Please feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below….

The Trade Deficit Nightmare

When they hear the word deficit, most Americans immediately think of the U.S. government budget deficit which is rapidly spiralling out of control.  But that is not the only deficit which is ripping the U.S. economy to shreds.  In fact, many economists commonly speak of the “twin deficits” that are destroying the U.S. financial system.  So what is the “other deficit” that they are referring to?  It is the trade deficit.  Every single month, we buy much more stuff from the rest of the world than they buy from us.  That means that every single month there is a massive outflow of wealth from the United States.  Every single day, America becomes just a little bit poorer as Americans continue to run out and fill up their shopping carts with cheap plastic crap from China and dozens of other emerging economies.  Not that trade is a bad thing.  Trade can actually be a very good thing.  But the gigantic trade imbalances that the United States has been running for years are absolutely bleeding us dry.  Unfortunately, our politicians have just stood idly by as each month we continue to transfer massive amounts of wealth out of the United States.

The U.S. Commerce Department recently announced that the U.S. trade deficit increased by 18.8 percent in June to $49.9 billion.  Most analysts had expected the figure to be somewhere around 41 to 43 billion dollars.

In the month of June, imports rose to approximately $200 billion while exports fell to about $150 billion.

So can we afford to have a net outflow of 50 billion dollars each and every month?

Of course not.

We had so much wealth as a nation that we could afford to do this for a while, but the reality is that if this keeps up the rest of the world will eventually drain us dry.

So just how dangerous is the trade deficit?  Well, world famous investor Warren Buffett once put it this way….

“The U.S trade deficit is a bigger threat to the domestic economy than either the federal budget deficit or consumer debt and could lead to political turmoil… Right now, the rest of the world owns $3 trillion more of us than we own of them.”

But very few Americans talk about the trade deficit.

Why?

Number one, it is because our education system has become so dumbed down that most Americans (especially among the younger generations) do not even know what the trade deficit is.

Number two, most Americans are so obsessed with frivolous things such as American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, Lady Gaga and their favorite sports teams that they couldn’t care less about thinking about real issues.

But they should be thinking about foreign trade, because it is literally destroying the nation.

What we have done is we have allowed the monolithic predator corporations that dominate our economy to slowly but surely move their operations to countries such as China and India where labor costs less than a tenth of what it does here.  In the process, executives at those predator corporations are earning huge “performance bonuses” while millions of hard working middle class Americans are losing their jobs.

It is time to wake up.  Have you ever wondered why it is so hard to find a decent job out there right now?  Well, there is a good reason.  The giant predator corporations have decided that they don’t really need us anymore.

Once upon a time, great American companies provided great American jobs for great American workers.  We created the biggest middle class in the history of the world and great industrial cities like Detroit, Michigan were the envy of the world.

But have you been to Detroit lately?

One of the greatest cities in the United States has become a hellhole.  The mayor says that nearly half the people there are out of work.

So what happened?

Did the giant corporations who used to make stuff in Detroit stop making stuff?

No, they are still making lots of stuff.

They just aren’t making their stuff in Detroit anymore.

Now, the truth is that it is really easy to jump on Detroit.  It is a city that has been mismanaged for decades.  But Detroit is far from alone.

All throughout the “rust belt” you can find other Detroits.

At this point many of you may be thinking that people living in places like that should just move.

That may be good advice, but the truth is that what has happened to Detroit is going to be happening everywhere.  It is going to come to your own neighborhood soon enough.  The giant predator corporations are going to continue to try to outsource and offshore every job they can.

Your job may be next.

Perhaps you should start learning about the trade deficit.

Perhaps you should start asking your representatives about it.

Just look at what all of this “free trade” and “globalism” did to our trade deficit between 1991 and 2005…..

Are you troubled by that chart?

You should be.

The U.S. economy is bleeding and the top politicians from both political parties act as if they could really care less.

What do you think is going to happen if tens of billions of dollars continue to pour out of the United States month after month after month?

The economic prosperity that we have all been enjoying is not guaranteed to last forever.

The system of world trade that has developed over the past few decades has provided us with gigantic mountains of cheap plastic crap, but it is not a good system for America or for middle class American workers.

Someday we will look back in horror at how incredibly stupid it was to ship our manufacturing base, our jobs and our prosperity to China.   

But the American people have made their choices.  They allowed the politicians to convince them that NAFTA, GATT and the WTO would be wonderful things for Americans.

They didn’t listen to the warnings about what would ultimately happen to our jobs and our economy.

They didn’t take the time to get educated about foreign trade and the exploding trade deficit.

So now we all get to pay the price.

25 Questions To Ask Anyone Who Is Delusional Enough To Believe That This Economic Recovery Is Real

If you listen to the mainstream media long enough, you just might be tempted to believe that the United States has emerged from the recession and is now in the middle of a full-fledged economic recovery.  In fact, according to Obama administration officials, the great American economic machine has roared back to life, stronger and more vibrant than ever before.  But is that really the case?  Of course not.  You would have to be delusional to believe that.  What did happen was that all of the stimulus packages and government spending and new debt that Obama and the U.S. Congress pumped into the economy bought us a little bit of time.  But they have also made our long-term economic problems far worse.  The reality is that the U.S. cannot keep supporting an economy on an ocean of red ink forever.  At some point the charade is going to come crashing down. 

And GDP is not a really good measure of the economic health of a nation.  For example, if you would have looked at the growth of GDP in the Weimar republic in the early 1930s, you may have been tempted to think that the German economy was really thriving.  German citizens were spending increasingly massive amounts of money.  But of course that money was becoming increasingly worthless at the same time as hyperinflation spiralled out of control.

Well, today the purchasing power of our dollar is rapidly eroding as the price of food and other necessities continues to increase.  So just because Americans are spending a little bit more money than before really doesn’t mean much of anything.  As you will see below, there are a whole bunch of other signs that the U.S. economy is in very, very serious trouble. 

Any “recovery” that the U.S. economy is experiencing is illusory and will be quite temporary.  The entire financial system of the United States is falling apart, and the powers that be can try to patch it up and prop it up for a while, but in the end this thing is going to come crashing down.

But as obvious as that may seem to most of us, there are still quite a few people out there that are absolutely convinced that the U.S. economy will fully recover and will soon be stronger than ever.

So the following are 25 questions to ask anyone who is delusional enough to believe that this economic recovery is real….  

#1) In what universe is an economy with 39.68 million Americans on food stamps considered to be a healthy, recovering economy?  In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts that enrollment in the food stamp program will exceed 43 million Americans in 2011.  Is a rapidly increasing number of Americans on food stamps a good sign or a bad sign for the economy?

#2) According to RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings were reported on 367,056 properties in the month of March.  This was an increase of almost 19 percent from February, and it was the highest monthly total since RealtyTrac began issuing its report back in January 2005.  So can you please explain again how the U.S. real estate market is getting better?

#3) The Mortgage Bankers Association just announced that more than 10 percent of U.S. homeowners with a mortgage had missed at least one payment in the January-March period.  That was a record high and up from 9.1 percent a year ago.  Do you think that is an indication that the U.S. housing market is recovering?

#4) How can the U.S. real estate market be considered healthy when, for the first time in modern history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together?

#5) With the U.S. Congress planning to quadruple oil taxes, what do you think that is going to do to the price of gasoline in the United States and how do you think that will affect the U.S. economy?

#6) Do you think that it is a good sign that Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of the state of California, says that “terrible cuts” are urgently needed in order to avoid a complete financial disaster in his state?

#7) But it just isn’t California that is in trouble.  Dozens of U.S. states are in such bad financial shape that they are getting ready for their biggest budget cuts in decades.  What do you think all of those budget cuts will do to the economy?

#8) In March, the U.S. trade deficit widened to its highest level since December 2008.  Month after month after month we buy much more from the rest of the world than they buy from us.  Wealth is draining out of the United States at an unprecedented rate.  So is the fact that the gigantic U.S. trade deficit is actually getting bigger a good sign or a bad sign for the U.S. economy?

#9) Considering the fact that the U.S. government is projected to have a 1.6 trillion dollar deficit in 2010, and considering the fact that if you went out and spent one dollar every single second it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend a trillion dollars, how can anyone in their right mind claim that the U.S. economy is getting healthier when we are getting into so much debt?

#10) The U.S. Treasury Department recently announced that the U.S. government suffered a wider-than-expected budget deficit of 82.69 billion dollars in April.  So is the fact that the red ink of the U.S. government is actually worse than projected a good sign or a bad sign?

#11) According to one new report, the U.S. national debt will reach 100 percent of GDP by the year 2015.  So is that a sign of economic recovery or of economic disaster?

#12) Monstrous amounts of oil continue to gush freely into the Gulf of Mexico, and analysts are already projecting that the seafood and tourism industries along the Gulf coast will be devastated for decades by this unprecedented environmental disaster.  In light of those facts, how in the world can anyone project that the U.S. economy will soon be stronger than ever?

#13) The FDIC’s list of problem banks recently hit a 17-year high.  Do you think that an increasing number of small banks failing is a good sign or a bad sign for the U.S. economy?

#14) The FDIC is backing 8,000 banks that have a total of $13 trillion in assets with a deposit insurance fund that is basically flat broke.  So what do you think will happen if a significant number of small banks do start failing?

#15) Existing home sales in the United States jumped 7.6 percent in April.  That is the good news.  The bad news is that this increase only happened because the deadline to take advantage of the temporary home buyer tax credit (government bribe) was looming.  So now that there is no more tax credit for home buyers, what will that do to home sales? 

#16) Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac recently told the U.S. government that they are going to need even more bailout money.  So what does it say about the U.S. economy when the two “pillars” of the U.S. mortgage industry are government-backed financial black holes that the U.S. government has to relentlessly pour money into?

#17) 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement.  Tens of millions of Americans find themselves just one lawsuit, one really bad traffic accident or one very serious illness away from financial ruin.  With so many Americans living on the edge, how can you say that the economy is healthy?

#18) The mayor of Detroit says that the real unemployment rate in his city is somewhere around 50 percent.  So can the U.S. really be experiencing an economic recovery when so many are still unemployed in one of America’s biggest cities?

#19) Gallup’s measure of underemployment hit 20.0% on March 15th.  That was up from 19.7% two weeks earlier and 19.5% at the start of the year.  Do you think that is a good trend or a bad trend?

#20) One new poll shows that 76 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. economy is still in a recession.  So are the vast majority of Americans just stupid or could we still actually be in a recession?

#21) The bottom 40 percent of those living in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.  So is Barack Obama’s mantra that “what is good for Wall Street is good for Main Street” actually true?

#22) Richard Russell, the famous author of the Dow Theory Letters, says that Americans should sell anything they can sell in order to get liquid because of the economic trouble that is coming.  Do you think that Richard Russell is delusional or could he possibly have a point?

#23) Defaults on apartment building mortgages held by U.S. banks climbed to a record 4.6 percent in the first quarter of 2010.  In fact, that was almost twice the level of a year earlier.  Does that look like a good trend to you?

#24) In March, the price of fresh and dried vegetables in the United States soared 49.3% – the most in 16 years.  Is it a sign of a healthy economy when food prices are increasing so dramatically?

#25) 1.41 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009 – a 32 percent increase over 2008.  Not only that, more Americans filed for bankruptcy in March 2010 than during any month since U.S. bankruptcy law was tightened in October 2005.  So shouldn’t we at least wait until the number of Americans filing for bankruptcy is not setting new all-time records before we even dare whisper the words “economic recovery”?

The Extreme Frustration Of Unemployed Americans

When Barack Obama visited Buffalo recently, he was greeted by a billboard advertisement with a very pointed message about unemployment.  In just a few words it summarized the frustrations of an entire region.  The billboard along I-190 had this very simple message for Obama: “Dear Mr. President, I need a freakin job. Period. Sincerely, inafj.org.”  As word about this billboard got out, it quickly made headlines all over the United States.  Why?  Well, the truth is that millions of hard working Americans are extremely frustrated about their lack of work right now.  When you don’t have a job and you can’t provide for your family, very little else seems to matter.  In fact, according to a recent Gallup poll, unemployment is now the second most important issue to American voters.  The number one issue is the economy.

The reality is that the American people don’t want excuses.

They want jobs.

And some are getting so desperate that they are even putting up billboards to express their frustrations.

So who sponsored the billboard in Buffalo?

Well, it was actually sponsored by a group organized by Buffalo businessman Jeff Baker.  It turns out that Baker lost his own small business 15 months ago.  His business had employed 25 people, and when he was forced to close it he described it as “the most heartbreaking situation” of his entire life.

Baker’s group, INAFJ (“I Need A Freakin Job”), says that they are not about playing politics.  What they want is only one thing.

Jobs.

They want someone to put the American people back to work.  Baker recently explained it this way….

“Nothing else matters unless the American people are working.”

In some areas of the United States, the situation is beyond desperate.  Detroit is a great example of this.  Not only does the city resemble a war zone at this point, but Detroit’s mayor says that the unemployment rate in his city is somewhere around 50 percent.

So how in the world is a major city supposed to function when 40 to 50 percent of the people living there can’t get the work that they need?

The sad thing is that Detroit used to be one of the most prosperous areas in the United States.  Once upon a time, the auto industry was booming and there were lots of great jobs available for blue collar workers.

But that all seems so far away now.

For decades, the politicians in Washington D.C. have allowed (or even encouraged) the offshoring of our manufacturing jobs, and now we are a nation with a dwindling manufacturing base that is rapidly bleeding cash.

In fact, the U.S. trade deficit widened for the second consecutive month in March to its highest level since December 2008.  Every single month we buy much more from the rest of the world than they buy from us.  That means that wealth is constantly flowing out of this nation, and no end to the bleeding is in sight.

The truth is that America’s twin deficits (the trade deficit and the massive U.S. government budget deficit) are absolutely destroying the financial condition of this nation.  For years and years economists have warned that these deficits would bring about a day of reckoning at some point, and now that day is here.

We are told by the media that we have entered an economic recovery, but with tens of millions of Americans not able to get the work that they need, most people are not convinced.  In fact, a new poll shows that 76 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. economy is still in a recession.

But this is nothing compared to what is coming.

The truth is that the United States is rapidly becoming a service economy.  Service jobs pay less than manufacturing jobs do, and the rapid advance of technology in recent decades has made human labor increasingly unnecessary.

That means that the “system” does not need our labor as much as it once did.

This is leading to a situation where there is a widening gap between the “haves” and the “have nots”.  In fact, the bottom 40 percent of those living in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.

But not everyone has been hurting during this financial crisis.

Did you know that the number of millionaires in the United States rose 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009?

Not only that, but an analysis of income-tax data by the Congressional Budget Office a few years ago found that the top 1% of households in the United States own nearly twice as much of the corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.

The elite are getting richer, while at the same time tens of millions of other Americans are finding it increasingly more difficult to survive.

That is why groups like INAFJ are becoming so popular.  They are tapping into the frustration of the growing number of Americans who are desperately trying to make it from month to month.  The following is a short video that INAFJ posted on YouTube about their organization….

So do have a story of economic frustration that you would like to share with the world?

Have you found yourself working harder and harder for less and less?

Does it seem like you come up short at the end of every month no matter how hard you try?

If you have a story, we would love to share it with our readers.  Please feel free to post your tale of economic frustration in the comments section below….